Viewpoint from Rev Brian Hall 13/05/2022
Rev Brian Hall
Vicar, St Andrew’s Church, Gorleston-on-Sea
who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are? This popular TV genealogy documentary series has aired on the BBC since 2004. Over the course of many seasons the question has been posed to a variety of well-known people including Jeremy Clarkson, Mary Berry, Ed Balls, Jodie Whittaker, Patrick Stewart, Judi Dench, Daniel Radcliffe, and Anita Rani. Unsurprisingly, as the family history of the guests is explored many secrets and surprises from the past are uncovered
The interest in family history has increased dramatically in recent years. Genealogy is one of the most researched online topics. In explaining why family history is important, someone has said, “I’m a product of everything that went before me, so knowing the past provides clues about who I am”
I suspect that one of the reasons why ancestry and genealogy has become such a popular pastime is that it addresses questions that human beings have asked throughout the ages – Where do I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? Is there any purpose to my life? An article on one web site notes, “Genealogy helps satisfy a deep need to understand how we fit into the broader world around us and is important because ultimately such an understanding lies at the heart of the human condition”
In this way, genealogy has a lot in common with religion in general and Christianity in particular – they all seek to answer similar questions and for mostly the same reasons
Christians have two family stories. One is derived from our birth parents. The other becomes ours when we are adopted into God’s family. This two-family story is reflected in a conversation that Jesus had with a prominent Jewish religious leader during which he spoke about the need to be “born again”
The story goes that many centuries ago a Christian pilgrim was stopped on the road by an inquisitive passer-by. “Who are you? Where have you come from? Where are you going?” asked the inquisitive passer-by. The pilgrim thought for a moment. Then without giving an answer, the pilgrim reached into his pocket. Taking out some money the pilgrim gave it to the inquisitive passer-by and said, “If our paths should ever cross again, I will pay double what I give you now to ask me those same three questions - Who are you? Where have you come from? Where are you going?”
Just as knowing our natural family’s story can shed light on who we are, understanding our spiritual family history can satisfy critical questions about identity and belonging, and help us to see our place in God’s unfolding purposes
Who do you think you are? It sounds such a simple question
But do you know who you really are?
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